French learning software can quickly teach you language listening and reading comprehension skills. It is one of the fastest ways for beginners to quickly gain a starting knowledge of the language. Most of the modern learn French software today uses at least some degree of immersion, which forces you to use context clues and educated guesses to approximate the meaning of new words. Some will only offer guidance and explanations in French, but many use English explanations and then slowly switch over to French.
Here are some of the best learning French software applications on the market today:
Best Immersion Software: Rosetta Stone French
You aren’t going to be able to make it through any learning French software reviews without hearing about Rosetta Stone French, the software that “wrote the book” in terms of comprehensive, immersive French learning software. The experience mimics the natural language acquisition that children experience, from learning through context and images and making mistakes. This approach may work better for some learners than others, though children using this software will almost certainly learn faster and benefit more than adults will.
It also stands apart for being a good program to teach speaking skills, with an included microphone and the ability to both record your voice, and for the software to grade you on your pronunciation and diction. The vocabulary taught in Rosetta Stone is extensive, but it can fall short on the more complicated grammatical concepts. In these areas, such as verb conjugation, it would probably be quicker to memorize the basic rules, taught in any traditional French classroom, and use this software for the broad exposure to vocabulary and situations. Despite these drawbacks, it does what it’s good at (helping you get functional in speaking and understanding French as quickly as possible) very well.
Best Software for Adults: Fluenz Version F2
The software Fluenz F2 French provides a different approach to learning French, much more similar to a learning in a classroom setting, with methodical progression in vocabulary and grammatical concepts. You are guided through every lesson with English explanations by a “tutor” who teaches you, from an English-speaking perspective, how to use and apply French grammar. There is a wide variety of activities to complete in each lesson, from audio comprehension to matching games. For students who wish to eventually progress to an advanced communication level in French, this software provides a good foundation, though it may sacrifice Rosetta Stone’s ability to get you quickly speaking a few conversational phrases. Audio CDs and podcasts are also included in the Fluenz pack to further improve your oral comprehension.
Best Software for Oral Comprehension and Conversation: SmartFrench
The SmartFrench software, along with a line of learn French audio CDs and videos, uses native French speakers, casual settings, and natural, non-stilted conversations to teach you to understand how the average native speaker talks, along with their pronunciations and idiomatic expressions. For many travelers, understanding spoken French needs to be the biggest priority, but slurred words and abbreviations used in natural spoken French can be indecipherable for someone who has learned “textbook” French. Written dialogues are included for every conversation, so that you can study any words you might have not understood. Conversations are slowed down at the beginning of the lessons, then slowly speed up to normal speed, helping you recognize familiar words and slowly gain confidence in understanding natural conversations. Proper pronunciation is also emphasized heavily. For anyone wanting to speak on a more than superficial level with French natives, and who want to hold more natural conversations, this is SmartFrench’s strength.